Be kind to yourself — you’ll be healthier for it
Thursday, September 24, 2020
You forgot your mom’s birthday, you blew the presentation at work and you haven’t worked out in a month — so you beat yourself up. If your best friend called and told you they had done any of these things, you would spend an hour or more talking them through it and making them feel better.
Why is it so easy to be kind to your friends and even strangers, but so difficult to give yourself a break?
The voice inside your head can build you up or tear you down, stiffen your resolve or break you. Being kind to yourself, mentally and physically, can make you healthier and happier.
A study published by Clinical Psychological Science shows that people who talked to themselves in a positive tone had lower heart rates and lower sweat response, which switches off the body’s threat response and can lower the risk of disease.
People with recurrent depression especially can benefit from talking to themselves and treating themselves kindly, the researchers said.
What does being kind to yourself look like? The same as it looks when you are kind to others — showing patience, acceptance and caring. Talk to yourself the way that you talk to people you love. Think of the nicest person you know, a parent, grandparent, favorite teacher or mentor who was kind to you. How did they treat you? How did they talk to you?
Make time for yourself every day to do something that you enjoy. Whether it’s reading, gardening, playing music, sports or games, this should be something that is just for you.
Give yourself some credit when you do a good job, do something nice or accomplish a goal. You would congratulate a co-worker or your youngster, so why not treat yourself as kindly? Be kind to others. When you start to be kind to yourself, it’s easier to be kind to others. When you are kind to others, it’s easier to be kind to yourself. Being kind to others can make a huge difference in their lives and make you feel good about yourself.
When you’ve had a rough day (or week), recharge with some self-soothing like a hot bath, long walk or snuggling with your pet.
Forgive yourself for past mistakes. Nobody is perfect and dwelling on things you have done wrong doesn’t make them go away.
Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, get regular exercise, drink water to stay hydrated and look after your appearance. You will feel better physically, and you will feel better about yourself.
Make healthy friendships. Friends who support you and your dreams can add quality to your life.
Respect yourself. You have value, respect yourself. Keep your promises to yourself.
Don’t dwell on failure. So, you didn’t succeed the first time, but you tried. Give yourself a pep talk and try again. Think of all that you have learned from the experience.
Stand up for yourself. When your inner voice starts to put you down, defend yourself like you would a friend.
Acknowledge your flaws. We all have flaws. You can’t parallel park, you are not good at math and you always forget to make up your bed. If your best friend had these flaws, you would work around them. If they are serious issues, get help — just like you would for your best buddy.
Seek help if you need it. For really big issues, like depression, mental health, drug or alcohol problems, get professional therapy. If you had a broken leg, you would get help. Take care of yourself!
Stop trying for perfection. You won’t reach it and it will just frustrate you. Just try to be better every day. Besides, perfection is boring.
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